High virtue is not virtuous, therefore it has virtue
Low virtue never loses virtue, therefore it has no virtue
High virtue takes no contrived action and acts without agenda
Low virtue takes contrived action and acts with agenda
High benevolence takes contrived action and acts without agenda
High righteousness takes contrived action and acts with agenda
High etiquette takes contrived action and upon encountering no response
Uses arms to pull others, therefore, the Tao is lost, and then virtue
Virtue is lost, and then benevolence
Benevolence is lost, and then righteousness
Righteousness is lost, and then etiquette
Those who have etiquette are a thin shell of loyalty and sincerity
And the beginning of chaos
Those with foreknowledge are the flowers of the Tao
And the beginning of ignorance
Therefore the great person:
Abides in substance, and does not dwell on the thin shell
Abides in the real, and does not dwell on the flower
Thus they discard that and take this
In this teaching Lao Tzu outlines how to lead a good, virtuous and content life. The key is rediscovering and making friends with your Essential/Basic Goodness. This is easier said than done. Many of us have focused so long on our shortcomings that we have lost sight of the fact that we all are basically good individuals worthy of love and happiness.
It always amazes me as to how resistant we are to accepting this fact. We are so hard on ourselves and subsequently on each other. This mantel of judgment only serves to distance ourselves from our human nature and a sense of belonging to the Great Oneness of mankind.
So often we think of the elements of human nature as those aspects of ourselves that we need to overcome. Perhaps this is due to the influences of Western Philosophy. We need to let go of this prejudice toward ourselves and relax with the fact that we are all on Path of self-knowledge, learning and awakening. This Path is intentionally paved with opportunities/obstacles for us to stumble on and learn from; and we will circle round and walk the steps of the lesson until we have mastered just enough to proceed in a more competent manner.
It is doable but it requires patience, faith, courage and Unconditional Love toward ourselves. In the Eastern Philosophy there are eight guidelines for rediscovering you basic goodness and leading a good, virtuous and content life:
To develop Wisdom
- Adopt the Right View= An attitude of Optimism
- Adopt the Right Intention = Everything for the highest good free of malice toward anyone
To develop Compassion
- Adopt the Right Speech = Understand that words have power
- Adopt the Right Behavior= Respect yourself and others
- Practice the Right Livelihood = Ensure that some element of your livelihood serves the greater good
- Make the Right Effort = Understand your fuel/drive and keep it positive.
To develop Spiritual Discipline
- Practice the Right Mindfulness = Stay present as much as you can
- Practice the Right Concentration = Be mindful of your intentions
The simple message here is to love the Universe (and the god-like nature within each of us) and each other. Rediscovering your basic goodness will ultimately lead you to discovering your Personal Authenticity. Now that is a treasure worth seeking.